Spotlight

In A League of Her Own

By Jon Caroulis
Photos by Milo Stewart Jr/National Baseball Hall of Fame
Three baseballs in a row on a wall.
Three baseballs in a row on a wall.
Photo by Lesly Juarez
Spotlight

In A League of Her Own

By Jon Caroulis
Photos by Milo Stewart Jr/National Baseball Hall of Fame
A portrait photo a Cassidy Lent, a young woman.

Cassidy Lent, MS '16 isn't a professional baseball player but, as the manager of Reference Services at the Giamatti Research Center at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, she faces the occasional curve ball.

“A woman emailed us about a certain minor league baseball player from the 1910s, specifically what he did after baseball," said Lent. The player, the woman disclosed, was a ghost in her house and she was trying to help tell his stories.

“We answer questions from all age ranges and from all over the world," said Lent, who earned a graduate degree in information sciences from UAlbany.  "We could be helping a third grader in the U.S. with their National History Day project one day — that fills me with a sense of purpose for what I am doing — and the next day helping a journalist in Japan."

People surround the exterior of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum on a sunny day.
Visitors enter the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum in Cooperstown, New York.

The more difficult and obscure searches tend to be either a minor league/semi-pro player or a rules question, according to Lent. “Both take some digging in either newspaper searches or meeting minutes, just hoping that you’re able to find something that can then lead you to the next source that will hopefully have more information.”

Lent, a Schenectady native, grew up in a baseball environment. “Both my parents like baseball and we had it on most every night during the season or in the car if there was a game,” she said.  “My dad is a Yankees fan, but my mom is anything but a Yankees fan. It’s a little complicated, but right now I believe she is rooting for the Phillies.” (Like her father, Lent's favorite team is The Bronx Bombers.)

“I knew a lot about the current Yankee team and a little about the teams they played. I knew cursory history, having had the opportunity to visit the Museum, but didn’t actually know much until after starting this job. I can now enjoy the game knowing more about the rules and the history of the teams, and the history of the game, how it got to where it is today and where it might be going,” she said.

Lent removes a book from a library shelf.
Lent removes a book from the stacks of the Giamatti Research Center, the foremost repository of baseball in the world.

In 2012, Lent interned at the museum and later volunteered when she could. She began working there in 2014, starting as the reference librarian. “It was a condition of my hiring that I finish my graduate degree,” she said, and was promoted to her current position in February 2019.

“My degree has allowed me to do my job more fully and competently. Without it, I wouldn’t have this job or be where I am today,” said Lent.

Geoffrey Kirkpatrick, director of the Bethlehem Public Library who taught in Albany's program, made a lasting impression on Lent. “He was one who was able to give me the best idea of what it was like to work in a library today and the challenges he faced,” she said.

Per New York State law, she can’t disclose who has used the library without their consent. However, “you can almost guarantee that if there has been a major baseball book or other project, that we’ve been contacted. Either they’ve visited in person or we’ve been able to provide help virtually,” she said.

As for the woman who inquired about the minor-league ball player/ghost, Lent said, “Years later, she came to the Museum and I had a chance to talk with her more about it. I also happen to believe in ghosts and loved that this was the sort of question I had a chance to try and answer.”